INsiders Guide: Boldy James, Kay Nambiar, Westside Gunn, Willie The Kid & V Don, Marlowe, Jamal Lamont, Apollo Brown and Philmore Greene, 38 Spesh, Vado Feat Lloyd Banks….

Boldy James creative output is nearly unparalleled, and with that activity, he continues to raise the bar with each new successive project he delivers.

Over the past twelve months alone, Boldy has released celebrated projects with The Alchemist (Super Tecmo Bo), Real Bad Man (Killing Nothing), and Nicolas Craven (Fair Exchange No Robbery).

After announcing his new album, Mr. Ten08, with the lead single and video, “Flag On The Play,” Boldy has now released the album’s second single “Could Be Worse.” 

Boldy James Mr. Ten08 will be released on 11-4-22.

Stream Boldy James “Could Be Worse”:

You can now purchase, stream, add and favorite ‘Could Be Worse” at your preferred DSP

Known best for his work as a photographer and model having collaborated with some of the world’s most-renowned artists and brands — from Calvin Klein to Cartier, and international publications including Vogue and NuméroKay makes a shift in his multi-disciplinary career with his forthcoming debut EP. The project was written and performed by Kay, which evolved organically from voice notes he’s recorded on his iPhone over the past five years and showcases a distinctively melancholic, pared-back but also deeply personal look into the heart of his music. 

When Westside Gunn released the first edition of #HWH ten years ago, Griselda was still in its infancy stage.   Now, GXFR is a global brand and he is the industry’s pre-eminent multi-hyphenate; artist/label owner/creative/curator/fashion icon.

With Griselda’s core, Westside Gunn, Benny The Butcher, and Conway The Machine now established stars, The trendsetting label is regenerating, revitalizing, and re-inventing itself.  Westside Gunn has assembled GXFR’s next generation of stars; Stove God Cooks, Armani Caesar, Rome Streetz, Jay Worthy, and his son Flygod JR (all of whom appear on 10).

Every year around this time, as the season’s change and fall announces itself, it’s become a reflex of sorts for fans to begin to clamoring and waiting on a new edition of #HWH.  It’s become a tradition and a rite of passage.  For as much of a visionary as Westside Gunn is, he is also a devout traditionalist. 

Last year at this time, Westside Gunn released HWH8 as a double album in two different installments with Side: A (which topped the iTunes Charts) and Side: B. The editions featured Tyler, The Creator, Lil Wayne, Jadakiss, Benny The Butcher, Conway The Machine, Jay Electronica, 2 Chainz, Larry June, Madlib, Stove God Cooks, The Alchemist, Daringer, Sauce Walka, Boldy James, Mach-Hommy, Rome Streetz, AZ, Armani Caesar Jay Worthy, Conductor Williams, Jay Versace, and DJ Green Lantern among others.

Keeping his plans under wraps until the very last moment, Westside Gunn has now released #HWH’s final installment; and to officially memorialize it, he has aptly titled it 10, which not only signifies completion but celebrates what has already been set in motion; and there is no disputing this notorious series will live on and influence for generations.   

That influence is readily apparent on 10’s lead single, “Shootout’s In Soho,” which features A$AP Rocky & Stove God Cooks,

“It’s only right that we end here.  All special things get a memorial release” Westside Gunn reflects.  “The last double album was going to be the final one, but it felt weird leaving off at nine and not 10.  I had to celebrate this series which has meant so much to fans.  Everything I do sounds nothing like the last thing I did.  That’s the creative in me, and I’m always going to push the culture forward.  I’m ending this on a really special note with 10.”

Westside Gunn’s 10 features appearances and production from A$AP Rocky, Run The Jewels, Black Star, Ghostface, Raekwon, Busta Rhymes, DJ Drama, Benny The Butcher, Conway The Machine, Stove God Cooks, Armani Caesar, Rome Streetz, Jay Worthy, Robby Takac (of the Goo Goo Dolls), RZA, The Alchemist, Swizz Beatz, Pete Rock, Conductor Williams and fresh essence from Flygod JR.

You can now purchase, stream, add and favorite Westside Gunn’s 10 at your preferred DSP

Undeniably a brand you can trust, with an already established long collaborative history, Willie The Kid & V Don have linked back up to rekindle their chemistry for their joint trilogy project Deutsche Marks III.

Deutsche Marks III is produced in its entirety by V Don and features guest appearances from Rome Streetz, Ransom, Eto, Abe Linx & Lord Apex.

In addition to their new release, Willie The Kid & V Don also released a new video for “1000 Eyes,” which can be viewed below.

Deutsche Marks III is now available!     

You can now purchase, stream add, and favorite Deutsche Marks III at your preferred DSP:

Watch “1000 Eyes” Video

Marlowe, the duo of producer L’Orange and rapper Solemn Brigham, is proud to release their highly-anticipated new album Marlowe 3. The alt-rap dyad showcases immense growth and maturity both individually and as a collective, making Marlowe 3 their best release to date and a superlative completion to the trilogy.

Marlowe is a rap duo, a sonic underworld of psychedelic beats and breakneck flows that hit with wig-splitting force. A collaboration between producer/mad writer L’Orange and rap prodigy Solemn Brigham, Marlowe has set their own standard for Hip-Hop internationally. The two creative partners and longtime friends from North Carolina have released two critically-acclaimed albums, headlining US & UK tours and capturing the attention of fans worldwide.

Marlowe 3 is a culmination of the growth the duo has had from their previous projects and tours. Everything from the writing to the production changed in a way with both Solemn and L’Orange completely retooling their studios throughout the creation of the project. 

L’Orange states, “This album feels like a maturity to who we are as a group. We set out to make something that was big, energetic, fun and explosive and I feel like we did that without losing control. I feel like Solemn and I are the best we’ve ever been.”

Following Marlowe 2, the duo embarked on a sold out 2021 UK tour. The new album is heavily influenced by their time spent touring in the UK. 

Solemn explains, “Spending time in the UK gave us a lot to draw from and made me want to give back to the people who showed love. Seeing the effect that we’ve had on people in person gives me the sense that Marlowe is more than just the two of us now and I pull from that as well.”

In 2016, L’Orange underwent two ear surgeries which drastically impaired his hearing. Marlowe 3 is the first album L’Orange has mixed since going completely deaf in his right ear.

He says, “I’m finally to the point where I feel comfortable adjusting to this new life. It’s been 10 years since the last one I mixed and I feel really good about doing it myself.”

After Marlowe’s first two albums, the self-titled Marlowe and Marlowe 2, the group received critical acclaim, garnering album of the year awards from the likes of BBC6, Yahoo! Entertainment and Amoeba Music as well as debuting as the #1 hip-hop album in the UK on iTunes. The group’s music has been featured in TV, film, podcasts, & videogames. Notably, their song “Future Power Sources” was featured in Gatorade’s “Greatness Starts With G” campaign, which aired during the 2021 Olympics, NBA finals, and NHL Stanley Cup. Their song “Fred Sanford” soundtracked a 7-11 commercial directed by Harmony Korine. They’ve also been featured on Fox Sports NFL and ESPN productions, as well as in massive video games like NBA 2K22, Saints Row, and Fortnite.

Let yourself get tempted by Jamal Lamont siren’s songs, with his debut EP out on October
17 on all streaming platforms.
Enchanting his audience for many years now, Jamal Lamont has previously shared the stage
with stars such as Dave Chappelle, Mali Music, MAJOR, Musiq Soulchild, Avery Wilson,
Faith Evans and John B. He has also been a guest on The Tammi Mac Show (FOXSOUL) and
appeared in an episode of CBS’ The Neighborhood, as well as Janelle Monáe’s Turntables
and Cocoa Sarai’s Big Dummy music videos.
Born in the chaotic sea of the pandemic, his Sirens EP emerged following numerous weekly
sessions with his long-term collaborator Mental Kryptonite, with whom he worked before as
part of the popular LA collective AfroHaus and scoring a residency at The W Hollywood.
Together, they crafted a 3-piece project that will lure you into an ocean of mesmerizing
melodies skillfully dancing over floating soundscapes, all oozing with admiration, sex,
sensuality and obsession. The tantalizing lead single Want You Around is ultimately what
inspired the whole merman concept for the hypnotizing visuals (out on October 25) and
later on, the title of the EP. “The director Allison A. Waite pitched the idea, explaining that
sirens were mythological creatures of both genres, stemming back from many different
origins. We both thought it was genius”, Jamal Lamont remembers. “With Sirens being
alluring, irresistible, inevitable and beautiful, I knew this would be the perfect name for the
EP. Especially as they’re singers too, which is personal to me, and I love the element of
With waves of warm vocals crashing over you, get ready for Jamal Lamont’s Sirens EP to
leave you spellbound.

What are the consequences of living in this f**ked up world? Within the first few seconds of their collaborative album, Cost of Living, rapper Philmore Greene and producer Apollo Brown articulate this question with unequivocal clarity. It’s an inquiry that looms at the core of their elegiac and existential soundtrack to modern inner city life. How can one escape the systemic traps that have ensnared generations since time immemorial? What does it mean to make the right choices? And if you emerge from the chaos to live a beautiful life, how do you overcome the survivor’s guilt and lingering trauma? 

Cost of Living is an album full of authenticity that can’t be faked. These are songs that betray the scar tissue. Contemplative fire. Verité films of the westside of Chicago. It’s this noirish part of town that nourished Greene and gave him nightmares. The place where he saw his first dead body in his early teens, where he lost his brother to the street violence only a few years later, and where he turned to the pad, pen and microphone as a refuge and way to share his hard-fought wisdom. 

The themes are nothing less than life and death. A lifestyle of endemic poverty, opportunities denied and dreams deferred. With a roll of the dice you can receive death, prison, or a path out. As the scratched vocals of Common echo on the hook to “Steep Life:” “rappers and hoopers, we strive to be like.” Greene is all too aware of reality. Like the former Common Sense before him, he has created a canon of morals and integrity that eschews sanctimony. The testimony of someone who has seen dope runners and villains, broken passions and cold-blooded betrayals, the consequences that can befall you in the concrete jungle if you’re not careful (or even if you are).

Behind the boards, Apollo Brown creates a cinematic backdrop of tense, moody strings and hand-of-god drums. A reminder of why he’s already become a rightful heir to the throne of Pete Rock, J Dilla, and DJ Premier. As Pitchfork recently raved, the Detroit producer’s “fidelity for the grime and grit of rap’s second Golden Age goes beyond simply trying to recreate DJ Premier beats. Flourishes across his instrumental projects and over a dozen collaborative albums unearth the passion he puts into his art.”

Philmore Greene is an ideal match for Brown’s sumptuous canvasses, an MC who the Chicago Reader has hailed for making “confident, luxuriant boom-bap.” But it’s his ability to convey complex emotions, empathetic street narratives, and heartbreaking pathos that make him singular. Consider the sharp detail of his words on “Welcome to the Ave,” where he namechecks the dice games, “all my n**’s grinding in the same clothes as yesterday,” the robberies and larcenies, the street pharmacies, the “question marks where the fathers be.” 

On the Evidence-assisted lead single “Paradise,” Greene unspools his gift for classic rap storytelling, comparing Chicago to Pakistan, noting the sex workers, church bells, and constant paranoia. He cites the hypocrisy of a world where you can get 40 years for drug trafficking and be out in three for murder. 

The centerpiece might be “This is Me,” where Greene details his own personal struggles and psychological turmoil. The murder witnessed at age 14 that sent him to therapists and shrinks, “fighting a battle inside of my mind.” You can almost hear the lurking footsteps inside his skull, as he worries about being watched and followed by the killer. He takes you back to being a teenager, wondering if he’d make it to 25. You flash forward a decade later, and Greene wakes up on his 25th birthday, crying tears of gratitude for the fact that he’s still breathing.

The cost of living may be high, but Greene and Brown allow you to understand that it is not insurmountable. There are too many losses and not enough gains, but as long as there remains a belief in something deeper and the possibility of something better, hope remains alive. This is soul music in the deepest sense, not as an aesthetic but as a physical place, where heart, philosophy, and the spirit reside. This is something for the ages, a work of tragic timelessness. After all, these issues have been here before us, and they’ll be here long after us. 

38 Spesh has been so focused on producing for the last year, rappers finally got a chance to breathe. But that ended with the release of 7 Shots (which topped the iTunes Rap Chart upon its release), which once again demonstrated how effortless emceeing is for the Rochester mastermind.

Though Spesh has been content to play the background while helping others move to the forefront, his promised epic run (which started with 7 Shots), proceeds accordingly with the announcement of his forthcoming project Beyond Belief.  Produced entirely by Harry Fraud, Beyond Belief is the most personal, and intimate album in Spesh’s decorated career; and it promises him a seat at the table with rap’s elite. 

Harry Fraud thrives on being entrusted with artists most personal statements; recently, producing chart-topping projects for Curren$y (The OutRunners), Dave East (Hoffa), Lil Peep (High Fashion), Benny The Butcher (The Plugs I Met 2), Jim Jones (The Fraud Department), French Montana (Montega), Jay Worthy’s You Take The Credit, We’ll Take The Check and also contributing production to two highly-anticipated sequels; Wale’s Folarian II (“Down South” Feat Maxo Kream & Yella Beezy), Russ’ Chomp 2 (“Top Of The World” Feat Jay Electronica), and Cormega’s The Realness II (“Man Vs Myth”),

To formally announce their collaborative album, Spesh & Harry released the project’s lead-single, “Speshal,” featuring Stove God Cooks.  “Speshal” is now available! 

38 Spesh & Harry Fraud’s Beyond Belief features guest appearances from Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y, Benny The Butcher, Jim Jones, Conway The Machine, Stove God Cooks, Ransom & Elcamino.

Vado is back to announce the third installment of his Long Run album series.  Long Run Vol. 3 features multiple guest appearances from Jim Jones, and 2/3 of his The Council group members Lloyd Banks and Dave East. 

In addition to the new album announcement, Vado released the project’s first focus track “Plain Sight,” which features Lloyd Banks. 

Long Run Vol. 3 will be released on 11-18-22.

Stream Vado FEAT Lloyd Banks “Plain Sight”:

You can now purchase and stream “Plain Sight” at your preferred DSP:

You can now purchase, pre-order, add and favorite Long Run Vol. 3 at your preferred DSP

Tunisian oud master and vocalist Dhafer Youssef has announced his forthcoming studio album, Street of Minarets, out January 27th via Back Beat Edition. The album is available now for pre-save HERE. The new single, and the album’s closer, “Ondes of Chakras” features a meditative build of sound created by a flurry of woodwind flourishes, groovy strings, and a percussive backdrop.


“The topic of the album is first and foremost about traveling,” shares Dhafer. “After traveling to the four  corners of the world, in search of new sounds, here I sing differently and use vocal effects that I grew up  with. Particularly the sound effect of megaphones for the call to prayer – hence the record title, Street of  Minarets.”

He continues, “this record is a journey through time with a bridge sitting between the child I was, a music lover and admirer of the great masters like Miles, Herbie, and Dave, and the grown-up individual I have become. A bridge between the jazz of the 50s and its rockier version of the 80s too. I wanted to show that I am a musician in perpetual motion, avoiding being labeled as kitsch or exotic.” 

Culture is being homogenized at warp-speed.  With so much music readily available and being released in copious amounts, even for the most informed and enthusiastic listeners, it’s become increasingly difficult and overwhelming to sift through and consume the weekly influx of new music. 

In today’s digital age were rarely unplugged.  With social media and networking platforms, it makes discovering a truly untapped and undiscovered artist that much more of a rarity.

But these anomalies do exist.  Some artists are just built differently, hard-wired with an attunement that you can’t quite put a finger on—but you know it when you hear it.  Enter, Errol Holden.  Errol is one of those rare unicorns who is about to put the industry on notice.

“Nobody knew my real name until I started rapping,” shares Errol Holden. “I didn’t want to bring that to this.” Now, the emerging New York City artist is making an impression with his identity. After years of hustling on rooftops and navigating the badlands of his concrete and steel universe, Errol creates art that shares vivid imagery and grim humanity.

Raised between Harlem and The Bronx in a Panamanian-American household, Errol has only had two jobs in his life.  One, working for famed Harlem fashion designer Dapper Dan, the other in the Harlem River Houses library, ended with the adolescent taking paychecks. Even before then, the teen known as “H-O” in the streets, hustled hard. After he dropped out of high school he took to making money on 123rd, 111th Street, and other corridors within the boroughs, as well as in Pittsburgh, South Carolina, and upstate. That lifestyle lasted decades, complete with incarceration, fractured family dynamics, and a myriad of valleys and peaks.

Refusing to glamorize his past, Errol offers stark accounts. “The war on drugs is over, and the junkies won.  Because at the end of the day, the junkies are the only ones left standing. We hustlers come and go; typically after short bursts of glory and lifelong consequences, while the customer remains. “They’re the ultimate narrators. The drugs are killing them slowly, but the money we get is gonna have us outta here eons before them.”  In recalling chapters of his life, Errol insists on portraying the user with complexity—and a kind of dignity reserved for David Simon series and Richard Price novels. “I give a face to people that are faceless,” he says. “These are human beings identified by the drug they’re using. I choose to expose the human being, not the addiction. Why’d they get high? Why’d someone like me get into the street and do what I was doing? The difference is the intimacy, level of detail, and humanity of this.”

In 2019, Errol Holden transitioned from the roof to the booth. The artist side of Errol found solace in writing his life in verse. Those thoughts and accounts of life eventually resulted in a handful of self-released projects, presented to customers directly through social media outreach, only to discover people valued the work to the point of paying sizable sums. “I put four projects out in less than a year, and I found a way to get money off music,” he explains.

“I am a lifelong criminal in transformation, and music has shown me that you don’t have to do bad.” Bringing his dreams to reality, Errol Holden has aligned with Nas’ Mass Appeal Records to deliver a brilliant example of his deeply personal and highly potent art. Errol’s forthcoming Mass Appeal debut project, Joe Frog, titled after Holden’s father examines family, addiction and consequences.

Now, Errol has shared the first single from his forthcoming project.   “85’s Astonishment” is an urgent, haunting, beautiful record with undeniably memorable bars; “what’s between the prologue and epilogue was a bit of a sleeper/ being your brother’s keeper/ only implies that he needs one…I write poems for prisoners that don’t get visitors.”


Socials: @neillfrazer

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Written by Neill Frazer

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